by Mike Henry

A four-horse spill in today’s sixth race caused the death of one horse and resulted in four jockeys being taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa for observation.

The chain-reaction accident began when 5-year-old mare La Ranchera, who was advancing along the rail under jockey Alice Cartwright, fell. Juliebrowneyes tumbled over La Ranchera and threw her jockey, Huber Villa-Gomez, to the track.

The 4-year-old filly Carol Ann and jockey Antonio Gallardo were unable to avoid Juliebrowneyes, although Carol Ann managed to jog away after losing Gallardo. In the next instant, Bright Promise sideswiped La Ranchera as the latter was struggling to regain her footing. Bright Promise’s jockey, Janelle Campbell, was tossed off in the process.

All four jockeys were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. Each was conscious and able to move their limbs and extremities.

At press time, Villa-Gomez and Gallardo were reported to be in good condition. Cartwright and Campbell were being treated and awaiting results of their X-rays.

La Ranchera died after the collision with Bright Promise. That 4-year-old filly was vanned off and returned to her barn for assessment. The 7-year-old mare Juliebrowneyes and Carol Ann appeared to emerge from the accident unscathed.

Thoroughbred racing to resume Saturday. An 11-race Saturday card is set to begin at 12:20 p.m. The program will be highlighted by the second round of the Tampa Turf Test Starter Handicap Series and also includes four races over the turf course.

Track announcer Richard Grunder’s popular “Morning Glory Club” Show begins at 10 a.m. on the first floor of the grandstand. His guests are the trainer-owner team of Joe Woodard and Billy Hays. Attendees receive free donuts and coffee and Grandstand passes.

Full fields of 10 runners are expected for both divisions of the Tampa Turf Test, which will be contested as the fifth and seventh races on the card. Both are at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth.

Both divisions offer a total purse of $21,000 and are for older horses which have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2014-2015.

While owner-trainer Jamie Ness is likely to have the wagering favorites for both races, neither spot bears the faintest resemblance to a pushover. In the fillies and mares division, which is the fifth race, 8-year-old Two Wonders – who won the first round at a mile on Jan. 17 – will face her two closest pursuers in that race, 5-year-old Cuppy Cake from the barn of trainer Anthony Pecoraro and 6-year-old Awalkinthemoonlite, trained by Anthony Granitz.

Two Wonders will be ridden by Ronnie Allen, Jr.

Under the Jagger, Inc., banner of himself and wife Mandy, Ness won the first round of the males division with 6-year-old gelding Brother Pat. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Antonio Gallardo has been assigned to ride Brother Pat in Saturday’s second round, which is slated as the seventh race, but his availability depends on his recovery from today’s spill.

The next three finishers in the Jan. 17 first round are back to take their best shots: Awesome Attack, trained by Efren Loza, Jr.; More Zen Tea, conditioned by Dennis Ward; and Paige Me, trained by Rory Barron.  

Neck ’n Neck, whose outstanding 3-year-old season included victories in the Grade II Indiana Derby, the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes and the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap, heads a small but select field in Saturday’s third race, a mile-and-40-yard allowance/$100,000 optional claiming event offering a total purse of $28,000.

A son of 2005 Travers winner Flower Alley, now-6-year-old Neck ’n Neck is owned by A. Stevens Miles, Jr., and trained by Ian Wilkes. He also finished second in the 2012 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Neck ’n Neck’s main competition could come from 7-year-old ridgling I’m Steppin’ It Up, a multiple-stakes winner from the barn of trainer Anthony Pecoraro. Jose Caraballo has been named to ride. Also likely to be competitive is 6-year-old gelding Unstoppable U, trained by Sandino R. Hernandez, Jr., and to be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz.

Gallardo and Daniel Centeno each rode two winners today, while trainer Gerald Bennett saddled two winners.

Hearts Reaching Out. It’s not too early to begin planning for the annual Race Track Chaplaincy of America-Tampa Bay Downs Division’s “Hearts Reaching Out” Golf Tournament, Dinner and Charity Auction, scheduled for Monday, March 2.

The gala event kicks off the track’s Festival Week, which culminates Saturday, March 7 with an unprecedented stakes program featuring the 35th running of the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, the Grade III, $200,000 Florida Oaks on the turf and the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes on the turf.

The golf tournament, dinner and charity auction are open to the public. The cost is $100 for the entire day’s activities, $20 for dinner and auction only. The tournament is a four-person scramble beginning at 11 a.m. at East Lake Woodlands Country Club.

The dinner and auction begin at 5:30 p.m. under the big tent in the Picnic Pavilion Area. Auction items will include racing and sports memorabilia, autographed collectibles, paintings, racing equipment and other valuable treasures.

The tournament is a major fund-raiser for the Tampa Bay Downs Division of the RTCA, which describes its mission statement as “dedicated to providing, with excellence, for the spiritual, emotional, physical and social/educational needs of horse racing’s workforce.”

For details or to reserve a spot in the tournament, call Sharyn Wasiluk at (813) 494-1870.